Mission and History of Foxcroft Academy
Foxcroft Academy is an independent high school founded in 1823 on the principle that knowledge is power. Foxcroft Academy is committed to providing students from central Maine and beyond a rigorous college and career preparatory academic curriculum designed to produce informed and active global citizens. Foxcroft Academy will furnish all students with the underlying skills needed for post-secondary success while embracing its safe community and natural environment.
Foxcroft Academy was established as a private secondary school on January 30, 1823 and became the first school to be chartered after Maine became a state. The school was named for Colonel Joseph Ellery Foxcroft, who had purchased one of the five townships granted to Bowdoin College by the Massachusetts General Court in 1794. The name of the township was later changed to Foxcroft. Upon receiving its charter, the legislature stipulated that the Academy must have in its possession funds of at least $1500. In 1823 the towns appropriations for all municipal purposes amounted to a mere $1140 and neither the state nor its municipalities provided funds for secondary education. The funds therefore had to be generated through the philanthropic concerns of Trustees and local residents.
In the spring of 1823, while it was still located in the Dover schoolhouse, James S. Holmes taught the first term for the newly established Foxcroft Academy. During these early days, Foxcroft Academy was known as a “poor mans college” because it brought to the pioneer families an opportunity for higher education. John Glover, in his History of Foxcroft (1964), records that the Academy in Foxcroft ”figured much during the nineteenth century in the development of secondary education in the eastern region of the United States.
The first Academy building, located on the lot adjacent to the Congregational Chapel, was finished enough in 1825 to enable the holding of classes, Charles P. Chandler being its first preceptor. By 1843, the Academy had 130 pupils, making for crowded conditions and thought was given to erecting a new building.
In 1859, the first Academy building, being no longer adequate, was removed to the north end of Foxcroft bridge and in 1860, a much larger building was constructed. For the next three decades an increasing number of students from Foxcroft and the outlying regions attended the Academy.
In 1903 the town of Dover discontinued its public high school and began paying tuition to Foxcroft Academy in order for their students to attend the Academy. This move increased student enrollment by one-third and made the enlargement of the building absolutely necessary. In 1904, through the generous gift of Mr. and Mrs. Edward Mayo in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Josiah Mayo, a new three story structure was added to the front of the old school building. Upon its completion in June of 1905, it was noted as one of the best equipped schools in the State of Maine.
By the beginning of the twentieth century, Foxcroft Academy was on the approved list of several colleges, including Brown University, Boston University, Bowdoin College, Dartmouth College, Smith College, University of Maine, Mount Holyoke College, Amherst College, Wesleyan University, Wellesley College Colby College and Bates College. In 1924 it was noted that Foxcroft Academy was “one of the few fitting schools in the State of Maine whose graduates are admitted to the New England Colleges on certificates without examinations.”
By 1924 the Academy had grown to an enrollment of 210 students and there was talk of the need for additional classroom space, a gymnasium and an “auditorium built in theater style” to be used for “music classes, plays, rehearsals and class meetings.”
In 1941, with enrollment now reaching 250 students, Louis Oakes of the class of 1892 deeded to the Trustees of Foxcroft Academy the Oakes Farm on the Guilford Road in Foxcroft. The work on a new school was financed largely by Mr. Oakes and other members of his family, with contributions also coming from Trustees, local citizens and alumni of the school. The building was opened for classes in February of 1952 and dedicated in August of that year.
A new gymnasium in 1960 was made possible by gifts from alumni, friends and local business enterprises with a large gift being contributed by Lady Eunice Oakes. An industrial arts building was begun in 1973 as well as the remodeling of the main classroom building with additional library and classroom space and the creation of the business educational wing. These projects were completed and used for instruction at the beginning of the 1974 school year. After two years use of temporary space for classes, construction was begun in 1986 on a new six classroom wing and music room which was dedicated in August of 1988.
191 years since its founding, Foxcroft Academy exists as one of only nine remaining (from an original 122) private academies that serves the public trust as part of its mission. Today Foxcroft Academy is proud to have an enrollment of more than 450 day and boarding students from 16 Maine communities and up to 25 different nations. Students at Foxcroft Academy can choose from more than 150 different course offerings. This extensive curriculum represents the core liberal arts requirements, college preparatory courses, advanced placement courses, vocational/technical courses and a newly added alternative education program.
For more information about Foxcroft Academy visit: www.foxcroftacademy.org